Bolingbrook lost tight games to the best teams in the state last season. The Raiders fell to Lockport, the eventual Class 8A state champion, by a point. They lost to Lincoln-Way East by a touchdown.
“And we did all of that without a quarterback,” receiver I’Marion Stewart said. “We had a receiver playing quarterback. That was the difference.”
“If we had a quarterback last year, we could have won state,” Bolingbrook coach John Ivlow said.
Jayden Lawrence, a transfer from Oswego East, was expected to be the starting quarterback last season but had transcript issues and didn’t play. Lawrence is ready to go this season, and he has some competition. Freshman Jonas Williams is a future star.
“They both have cannons,” Ivlow said. “It is neck and neck right now. They can both run, but that isn’t their forte. We’ve never had two cannon arms before.”
Stewart has been impressed by Williams’ potential.
“People don’t believe me when I tell them we have a freshman quarterback,” Stewart said. “But he’s definitely going to be something special.”
Bolingbrook was a destination for talented transfers this season.
Senior running back Joshua Robinson transferred in from Montini. Senior Kaleb Miller, a standout running back at Nazareth last season, also has arrived. He’ll play receiver for the Raiders.
Those are two dynamic players added to an offense that already featured Stewart and Kyan Berry-Johnson, two juniors who are among the area’s best receivers.
“[Lawrence and Williams] will benefit from all that experience around them,” Ivlow said. “All they have to do is get it out there to them, and they will do the rest, especially with a good running game.”
The Raiders don’t have a lot of experience back on the offensive line, but Ivlow is optimistic about the group.
“I’m excited about them,” Ivlow said. “They are getting better, and they are going to be great next year.”
Safety Damon Walters, a Northwestern recruit, and linebacker Marcus Williams lead the defense. Bolingbrook returns seven starters from a defense that held the Porters to 14 points.
All signs point to the Raiders joining the area’s elite group of Class 8A teams.
“We are ready to take that big step forward,” Marcus Williams said. “It’s all about discipline and limiting our errors. Everyone needs to be locked in on every play.”
Bolingbrook has 68 players, which is a decent number but significantly fewer than some Class 8A powerhouses. The program has added numbers steadily since falling off during COVID.
“We have to stay healthy,” Ivlow said. “That’s going to be the biggest thing. The numbers are up, and that’s been great, but there are key spots where we just don’t have a lot of depth.”
Aug. 26 vs. Minooka
Sept. 3 vs. Simeon at Gately
Sept. 9 at Lincoln-Way West
Sept. 16 vs. Sandburg
Sept. 23 at Lincoln-Way East
Sept. 30 vs. Homewood-Flossmoor
Oct. 7 at Lockport
Oct. 14 vs. Lincoln-Way Central
Oct. 21 vs. Stagg